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Mark Richt’s Miami Paradise Camp is smart branding, and it’s working

Welcome to The Crootletter (sign up to get this in your inbox every morning!). I'm Bud Elliott, SB Nation's National Recruiting Analyst, and in this space I'll be sharing news, rumors and musings on the world of college football recruiting.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami held its "Paradise Camp" over the weekend. All schools host camps, but the way Miami branded this under Mark Richt was smart.

It played up the "living in paradise" element of playing at Miami, which is something the Hurricanes should do. But the added element here is that Miami made a big deal about former stars (such as Ray Lewis) coming back to coach and motivate at the event. That players came back isn’t unique, but the way Miami promoted its comeback is something I do not see other schools doing much. This is a no-brainer, and other schools should do this. Miami also won by distributing custom compression gear, which kids will continue to wear around outside of camp because it's of high quality.

And the Hurricanes landed some commitments as well. Miami landed a verbal pledge from Brian Edwards, a local three-star safety from St. Thomas Aquinas (formerly of Miramar). Edwards has good size and versatility. The Hurricanes took a commitment from (at the time unranked) offensive tackle Zalontae Hillery, of Brunswick (Ga.). Hillery has good size and appears to have impressed Miami’s coaching staff at the camp. Miami also got 2019 cornerback Akeem Dent, from Palm Beach. 2019 is a long ways off, but getting commitments is a good thing.

While the players Miami landed are not rated all that highly as of this writing, perhaps more impressive was the list of visitors. Alabama offensive tackle commitment Alex Leatherwood attended, as did James Cook, FSU’s 2018 running back commitment and little brother of Dalvin Cook. Some top players attended the event and are excited about the Hurricanes.


Several other schools added commitments over the weekend.

Notre Dame added a commitment from four-star defensive tackle Darnell Ewell, of Virginia. The Irish have done well in Virginia in recent years. Brian Kelly is again raking in talent for the Irish, who now have 11 four-star prospects committed against just five three-stars.

Texas A&M added four-star linebacker Devodrick Johnson, of Kimball (Tex.). With many prospects waiting to see how the Aggies and Longhorns do on the field this year, he is only the seventh of 44 four- and five-star recruits in Texas to commit to either school. Both schools are primed to close quite strong on the recruiting trail if they can put it together on the field.

Washington picked up Brandon McKinney, a four-star safety out of Orange (Calif.) Lutheran. Washington is getting a lot of hype on the field this year, and perhaps it’s already paying off on the recruiting trail.

And Alabama landed a commitment from four-star defensive tackle Akial Byers.